Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Whoa, man!!

So I entered my apartment around 10:15 last night and turned on the television to catch the primary results. Lo and behold, there was Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination for Peter Fitzgerald's US Senate seat, which was an understatement at the very least.

The Tribune reported this morning that Obama's percentage of the vote almost doubled that of state Comptroller Dan Hynes with Blair Hull finishing a distant third in the running. Having funded his campaign to the tune of $29 million of his own money, that roughly translates to $260 a vote for Hull, who has a valid reason to lay partial blame on the media for the implosion of his campaign. At the very least Blair Hull will be remembered as the Howard Dean of this primary campaign. YEEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!

Obama's victory was not surprising. What was shocking was the support he had statewide and the State party's inane decision to play politics as usual by endorsing Hynes. Hynes' reliance on the city's white and Latino wards was hampered by his milquetoast campaigning; resultingly Obama outpaced Hynes 66 percent to 16 percent in Chicago.

Ramsin has a detailed analysis of Obama's victory over at The Howtown that reads a bit like sour grapes to me, but we know the old adage about opinions. The Humble Wiz is particularly incensed that Obama drew comparisons to Harold Washington with his final ad prior to the polls opening. However, last night's victory was not dissimilar to Harold's '83 mayoral primary win over Jane Byrne and Richie Daley the overbearing district manager. In short, pundits, experts, Democrat hardliners, even Ramsin underestimated the black vote, which sided overwhelmingly with the charismatic Obama. So did liberals. The Tribune article reports a nice story of futility in Gene Schulter's 47th ward, where ward foot soldiers blanketed the streets with Hynes literature. The 47th went to Obama 60 percent to Hynes' 25 percent.

That still doesn't account for Obama's support in the collar counties and downstate. While the media's reprehensible portrayal of the Hull/Brenda Sexton divorce was the major factor in his Dadaelean fall from grace, Hull can also lay blame at his campaign managers for not having a thorough understanding of Chicago/Illinois politics (another point on which I agree with Ramsin.) He might also blame his fortune, as one could make an educated guess that Hull's self-centered largesse turned a lot of working-class voters toward Obama.

While Obama's win by no means harkens the demise of the Cook County Democratic Machine Mach II, their support of Hynes was baffling. Here in the 11th ward, every tree, light pole, and window was littered with Hynes posters, usually joined in tandem with Cook County Commissioner John Daley. They'll simply regroup and throw their considerable clout behind Obama.

Obama will go on to face Jack Ryan for the Senate seat in the November election and the Wiz is saying that with the right campaign Ryan could make it a squeaker. Again, I humbly disagree. One thing the state GOP should be worried about it is that Obama's statewide vote total last night far outpaced the cumulative vote total of all the Republican candidates, which can be used as a barometer of the health of the statewide GOP. In short, not good. Consider Jim Oberweis with his paranoid commercials on illegal immigration and name recognition won 23% of the GOP vote. If the GOP had their eggs in one basket, Oberweis could easily be the nominee.

Either way, I'm never eating his ice cream again.

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